Saturday, May 31, 2008


These cookies are very interesting and very good. I found the recipe on a food blog,, and it's originally from David Lebovitz's "The Great Book of Chocolate." (And, PS, DL is recognized as a top pastry chef from the San Francisco area and has authored several cookbooks.) What's different is the baking temperature: 300F. I had my doubts, but it does something to the texture of the cookie, making it sugary-crispy-crunchy and slightly chewy, all at the same time. They don't brown much, which kind of bothers me, but once I sank my teeth in, I didn't care. They're substantial cookies, too, not flimsy or delicate. Instead of chocolate chips, I used a combo of chopped Hershey's Bliss Signatures Milk Chocolate with meltaway centers and rich and creamy dark chocolate. I had to unwrap them but they were oh, so worth it.

I made a half-batch, but I'm giving you the recipe for a full batch. The full batch is supposed to make 20 cookies, but I only got 8 from the half batch, so, naturally, it's going to depend on how big you make the cookie dough balls.

David Lebovitz's Great Chocolate Chip Cookies
Rating: 7 out of 10
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, in chunks
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour lightly spooned and leveled (add 1 Tbsp. if you live in the South)
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups of your favorite chocolate chips
1 cup of your favorite nuts, toasted and chopped

Set the oven rack in the top 1/3 of the oven. Preheat oven to 300F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In large mixing bowl, beat sugars and butter till smooth and creamy on low speed of electric mixer. Add egg and vanilla and beat again till smooth. Stir in baking soda, flour and salt, mixing only till combined. Fold in chips and nuts. Place balls of dough, about 2 Tbsp. each, 4" apart on baking sheets. Bake 18 -20 minutes, or till pale golden brown.
Makes 20 cookies.

Friday, May 30, 2008


There is no better accompaniment to a meal than garlic bread. Years ago, I made it with butter; then I switched to extra virgin olive oil; now I use Smart Balance Lite. I used to just mash the garlic with the fat; now I add herbs. Just parsley is great, but feel free to add other herbs as well. Thyme, oregano, basil and rosemary all work well with the garlic to provide a flavorful bread. Garlic bread is fast and easy, so there's really never any excuse to buy the premade stuff which is vastly inferior to homemade. Another reason to make it yourself: you can make any quantity you want -- small to large -- allowing you to use up leftover rolls or French or Italian breads. Why would anyone ever want to buy garlic bread when it's so easy to make?

Parsley-Garlic Bread
Ratiing: 10 out of 10
Any quantity of French, Italian, Sourdough or other crusty bread or crusty rolls
About 1 tsp. of Smart Balance Lite for each slice of bread -- estimate (if you don't have enough, you can easily make more; if there's too much, use it on veggies or keep it for the next batch of garlic bread)
Chopped parsley leaves (again, estimate -- you'll get the hang of it after you do it a few times)
Minced garlic (you know the drill )
Any other herbs you might like to add

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the bread or rolls into slices, but don't cut all the way through to the bottom. Let the bread be attached at the bottom. Mix the Smart Balance, parsley, garlic and any other herbs till everything is well combined and evenly distributed. With a bread knife, butter each slice. (I butter each side of the slices, but only one side needs to be buttered.) Wrap the bread in tinfoil and bake about 15-20 minutes, or till thoroughly hot all the way through. Place the bread in a bread basket and serve immediately.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


We only have London broil when we have company, so our Memorial Day London broil was a treat for us. I took the easy way out this time and used a recipe from the back of my Moore's Original Hickory Flavor Marinade, entitled "Moore's Perfect T-Bone," which I tweaked a little. The bottle was a gift from my friend, Sara; and I confess I had never used Moore's before she gave it to me. The bottle says "Moore's can do more in 30 minutes than other marinades can do all night." I like Moore's a lot -- the flavor complements beef and doesn't overpower it. If you want to know more about Moore's, or check out more of their recipes, go to their website, BTW, the leftover beef makes great sandwiches. I pound the slices with a meat mallet to make them as thin as possible before I layer them between bread or rolls. So the next time top round, bottom round or flank steak go on sale at your local supermarket, stock up. Freeze what you won't be using right away and save it for an occasion.
Flank steak is the leanest of the 3 cuts; bottom round is my preference but doesn't seem to be as popular in the South as it was up North; but top round is a-ok. And Moore's, made in Alabama, is pretty widely distributed. It's available in Wal-Mart and Harris Teeter, and probably a lot of other stores as well. If you can't find it where you live, check out their website because they will send it to you.

Easy Marinated Grilled London Broil
Rating: 9 out of 10
3/4 cup Moore's Original Marinade
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 London broil

Mix marinade ingredients in gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Add London broil; seal bag, pressing out air. Refrigerate 30 minutes. You can refrigerate longer if you need to, but it isn't necessary. Place London broil on hot grill (425F); close cover. Grill about 20 minutes for rare, turning once. Transfer meat to a platter and let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing on diagonal in thin slices. (Note: If possible, turn off the grill burner that you place the meat on and let it cook from indirect heat provided by the other burner(s). This produces fewer carcinogens.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


This is one of my go to recipes because it's so easy and so good. You can make it with broccoli or cauliflower or both together. For the peas, you can use snap peas, snow peas or regular garden peas out of the shell. Onions, scallions or shallots can be used in addition to the garlic. And just salt and pepper is enough to bring out the flavors of the veggies. Nothing else is needed. And the leftovers are great cold by themselves or in a salad.

Garlicky Cauliflower and Snap Peas
Ratiing: 9 out of 10
About 2 cups cauliflowerets
About 1 cup snap peas
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
About 1/3 cup sliced scallions
About 1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Trim cauliflowerets and snap peas; steam for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool. Heat olive oil and scallions over medium heat in large heavy saute pan or fry pan till scallions start to sizzle; lower heat; add garlic, cauliflower and peas and stir for 3-4 minutes, or till veggies are well coated with olive oil and everything is hot. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. Serves 4

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


In honor of our servicemen, I made a Memorial Day dinner for my husband (a Navy vet) and our friend (a Marine vet). Our menu was: grilled London broil, mashed potatoes, garlicky cauliflower and snap peas, Caesar salad, garlic-parsley bread, and this wonderful cake. Making dessert shouldn't be such a big deal, but I spent 2 days just deciding on what to make. I printed out 4 chocolate cake recipes (two made with Guiness Stout) and was heading in that direction, when for no apparent reason other than to exercise my female right of changing my mind at the last minute, I decided to come up with my own recipe. The title of this cake is not accurate, because I've also used coffee brandy in the cake. So maybe I should have called it something like "Tijuana caramel-coffee cake with milk chocolate Bailey frosting," but the problem with that is that Bailey's is Irish. So there you have it. Not only did I labor over what dessert to make, I also couldn't pick a title. I guess it was my weekend of indecision. But, happily, I will tell you that the cake is good. A little too good. I need to get rid of the leftovers quickly before I eat them. My assistants for yesterday's confection are pictured below: Hershey's natural cocoa, Lindt Milk Chocolate with smooth milk filling, and a little nip of "Bailey's with a hint of caramel," that I purchased in California. Regular Bailey's will work just fine if you can't find the caramel version. And if you don't want to keep a big bottle of Bailey's around the house, the nips are the way to go. I bought several for $1.00 each in San Diego at a corner store that was trying to lighten up on their inventory.
The cake, itself, is an adaptation of a Pillsbury yellow cake recipe that I halved so I wouldn't have a ton of cake left over that I would be tempted to eat. I subbed some cornstarch for flour to make it more tender and added the flavorings I wanted. Caramel, coffee and milk chocolate....yummmo.
Baileys Caramel-Coffee Cake with Milk Chocolate Baileys Frosting
Rating: 9 out of 10
1 cup + 1 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened
1/2 cup fat-free half and half or milk
2 tsp. instant coffee powder
1-1/2 tsp. molasses
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. Bailey's
3 Tbsp. coffee brandy, such as Kahlua
Preheat oven to 350F. Brush a 3-cup bundt pan with melted butter and dust with flour (or follow manufacturer's directions for prepping). (If you don't have a 3-cup bundt pan, you can use an 8" cake pan to make one layer. You can either cut the layer in half to make half a cake, or you can leave it as is and just make a one-layer cake.) Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk till well blended. Add softened butter and mix on low speed of electric mixer till butter is in thoroughly mixed in and mixture is like coarse crumbs. Dissolve coffee powder and molasses in half and half and add to flour mixture; beat on low speed for about 1 minute, or till thoroughly combined and smooth. Add egg, vanilla and Bailey's and mix on low speed just till combined. Do not overmix. Bake 20-23 minutes, or till toothpick inserted near center of cake returns with just a few crumbs. Do not overbake. Cool in bundt pan 20 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to finish cooling. While cake is still warm, brush with 2 Tbsp. coffee brandy.
Milk Chocolate Bailey Frosting
1 cup pecans
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1-1/4 cup confectioner's (10X) sugar
2 Tbsp. natural cocoa
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup Bailey's
3 oz. milk chocolate, melted
1-2 Tbsp. fat-free half and half, if needed
Toast the pecans in a 375F oven for about 8-10 minutes, or till they are aromatic. Let cool.
In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and cocoa. Mixture will be dry. Add the salt, cinnamon and Bailey's and mix till creamy. Put the chocolate in a small microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for about 1 minute, or till chocolate can be stirred and no hard pieces remain. Mix chocolate into frosting and add enough half and half to make a spreadable frosting.
To assemble cake: Frost the cake. Pick out the best whole pecans for the top of the cake. Grind or crush the remaining. Using your hands, pick up some crushed pecans and gently slap them on the side of the cake, pressing them in. Some will fall. Repeat till sides are encrusted in nuts. Place the pretty whole pecans on the top. Yield: 4 - 6 servings

Monday, May 26, 2008


This is Sara Maher's $200 winning BH&G Prize Tested recipe from April 2008 -- kind of, except I changed it some. (My changes: I used white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, cut some fat and sugar and added a little cocoa to the walnut filling. The original recipe had a frosting made of butter, cream, orange peel and sugar, which I'm sure was good, but would have added more sugar and fat. Instead, I just mixed a little powdered sugar to the remaining nut filling and sprinkled on top of the muffins before baking. Oh, and I always bake my muffins in a preheated 500F oven, reducing the temp to 350F as soon as I put the muffins in. This results in nice, high, tender muffins and more closely simulates a commercial bakery oven.) These muffins are delicious and very different. The nut filling reminds me of bear claws -- one of my favorite pastries. The orange flavor is very subtle but nice. There's plenty of fat and sugar left in my adapted recipe to produce a tender, flavorful muffin. I gave 6 away, ate 2 and still have 4 in my freezer.

Walnut-Filled Muffins, Adapted
Rating: 8 out of 10
Filling: 2 cups toasted walnuts
2 Tbsp. sugar (I used 1/4 tsp. Stevia + 1 Tbsp. sugar)
dash of sea salt
1-1/2 tsp. Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
1 Tbsp. orange juice

Muffin: 2 cups white whole wheat flour, lightly spooned and leveled
1 Tbsp. French vanilla instant pudding mix
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. orange zest
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2 eggs (I used large)
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 tsp. Stevia + 1/2 cup sugar)
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup fat-free Half & Half (I used Land o' Lakes)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Topping: 2 Tbsp. confectioner's (10X) sugar

Preheat oven to 500F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners, or lightly grease and flour the cups; set aside. In food processor, finely grind nuts. Add remaining nut filling ingredients and continue to process until mixture is combined. Using level tablespoons, shape most of the nut mixture into 12 balls; reserve remaining nut filling for topping.

Topping: Combine remaining nut filling and 10X sugar in small bowl with fork, pressing out lumps to make a crumb topping.

Combine first 6 dry ingredients; set aside. In medium microwaveable mixing bowl, heat the butter on high till almost melted, about 45 seconds. Let sit in microwave for 2-3 minutes, then remove and beat in eggs and sugar with wire whisk till well combined, about 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and beat well with whisk till combined, about 2 minutes. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing only till barely combined with as few strokes as possible. Spoon half of batter into cups; top with walnut balls, pushing them down slightly into cup. Top with remaining batter. Sprinkle each muffin with some of the topping. Reduce oven temp to 350F as soon as you put muffins in oven. Bake 11-14 minutes, or till toothpick inserted in muffin returns with just a few crumbs. Cool in pan 5 minutes; turn out on cooling rack to finish cooling. Yield: 12 standard-size muffins

Sunday, May 25, 2008


As promised, I've made a batch of the original salsa to compare with my friend, Sara's version. Below is the photo of Sara's salsa, and you can see immediately that hers is juicier. And the juice is so delicious!
Guy was bothered by the charred grilled vegetables, especially the onions, but I actually preferred cooking the onions this way because it's easy and I can digest them that way. (When onions are cooked, the enzymes are at least partially destroyed, making them easier to digest.) The other difference is that the SL recipe is very mild. There's just not enough heat for me. After it sat overnight in the fridge I tasted again and it was still too mild. So I added a minced serrano pepper (they're a little hotter) and some hot sauce, and now it has more kick. I'm not sure why mine didn't turn out hot enough, because Sara said she doesn't add extra hot peppers. The bottom line is I've crowned Sara the salsa queen and told her she can make salsa for me any time, because hers is absolutely the best. That being said, this is a good salsa recipe, one that would please just about anyone. Even if you don't make it as well as Sara, you will still be happy with the results. I'm printing the original SL recipe with no changes below; but I did not use cumin, and Sara doesn't use it either. I'm just not sure I would like that flavor in the salsa and I didn't want to ruin a batch.

Southern Living's Grilled Corn Salsa
Rating: 8 out of 10
3 ears fresh corn
1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/2" thick slices
1 red bell pepper, halved
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lime juice
Garnish: fresh cilantro sprig

GRILL first 3 ingredients, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350F-400F) 8-10 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally. (I soaked the corn in water in a plastic bag for about 15 minutes before grilling, and left the ears in their husks.)
CUT corn kernels from cobs. Coarsely chop onion and red bell pepper halves.
COMBINE grilled vegetables, tomato and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl; cover and chill 2 hours or up to 2 days. Serve with chips, grilled chicken, fish or beef. Garnish if desired. Yield: 5 cups. Prep: 20 min., Grill: 10 min., Chill: 2 hrs.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


My friend and neighbor, Sara, is from Thailand and makes wonderful Thai food. She also makes great salsa and always brings us a container. I don't eat it because I don't eat raw onions. So, when she found that out, she made me my own salsa without the onions. This salsa is so good, I can't stop eating it. I even drink the juice. The flavors are perfect, with just enough heat and a good balance of ingredients. I don't like cilantro, but in this salsa, it's perfect and I like it. When I asked Sara if I could post the recipe on my blog, she gave me a copy of the recipe which she adapted from Southern Living. The original recipe is for grilled corn and contains cumin, neither of which she uses. At some point, I want to try the original recipe and compare; but for now, I can't imagine anything better than this.

Sara's Corn Salsa
3 ears fresh corn, cooked, kernels cut off
1 large sweet onion, chopped (or leave out if you don't like raw onion)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 Tbsp. lime juice

COMBINE all ingredients in a large bowl; cover and chill 2 hours or up to 2 days. Yield: 5 cups.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


This week is not starting well. I'm trying to develop a low-fat dessert recipe, and Sunday's attempt failed, leaving me with 3 egg yolks to use up. I decided to add a yolk and make lemon curd, but found I didn't have enough fresh lemon juice. Luckily, I had some orange zest in the fridge and some frozen oj concentrate, which saved the day. That's why these are called "lemon-orange curd bars," instead of just "lemon curd bars." The crust on this dessert is fantastic (why not, with 2 sticks of butter?) and the topping really sets this off. These are definitely good, but I asked myself: do I want to waste my fat calories on a lemon dessert or on a chocolate dessert? If I'm going to eat fat, let it be chocolate. So, even though these are good and helped me use up my yolks, they'll be farmed out and I'll save my fat calories for some nice gooey chocolate dessert sometime in the future (soon I hope). P. S. The original recipe is on; it's called "Lemon Curd Bars", submitted by Thea, and rated 5 out of 5 by 53 members. I did make some changes to it, but you can check out the original by going to and searching for lemon curd bars.

Lemon-Orange Curd Bars
Rating: 6 out of 10
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup King Arthur white whole wheat flour, scooped
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, scooped
1/2 cup confectioner's (10X) sugar
1-1/2 cups lemon curd, purchased or homemade**
2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/2 cup toasted and chopped almonds*
Preheat oven to 375F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed. Add flours and sugar and mix on stir speed until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Reserve about 1/3 of the crumbs for topping. Pat remaining mixture onto bottom of a 9x13" baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes; remove; let cool slightly.
Add the coconut and almonds to the remaining crumb mixture. Spread the lemon curd over the baked layer. Sprinkle the topping over all. Place in oven; lower temperature to 350F and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and filling is bubbling around edges. Cool completely before cutting and serving.
* Toasted and chopped almonds: Place the almonds in a pie plate and bake at 375F for about 10 minutes. Cool. Place almonds in a resealable plastic sandwich bag. Pound lightly with a mallet or rolling pin to coarsely chop them.
**Easy Homemade Lemon-Orange Curd
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. orange zest
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs or 4 egg yolks
In 1-1/2 quart heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients and whisk till mixture comes to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, or till the mixture coats the back of a metal spoon. The curd will thicken as it cools. The eggs will not curdle when the butter is added in with the other ingredients. You can also microwave this mixture; it will take less than 5 minutes. (If, for some reason, your curd does not set -- i.e., it's still a bit runny -- not to worry. Just add 1 or 2 Tbsp. flour to it, whisking well, and pour it over the baked crust.)

Monday, May 19, 2008


Mashed potatoes: everyone's fave. But who wants the fat? I used to make them with lots of butter and sour cream. Here's my healthier recipe for low-fat mashed potatoes.   And, no, they can't taste like the full-fat version, but, yes, they are tasty. This recipe makes a lot and is perfect for a holiday meal.

(TIP:  Freeze leftovers in 1/2-cup portions in pint-sized freezer bags or in 1-cup portions in quart-sized bags.  Just remove thawed potatoes from bag and place in a microwaveable small bowl; add a little milk or broth, stir with fork, heat on high for 1 minute or less.)

Judy's Tasty Low-Fat Mashed Potatoes
Rating: 9 out of 10

6 cups peeled and cut Russet or Idaho potatoes
2-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
6 Tbsp. plain nonfat Greek yogurt
3/4 tsp. white pepper

Cook potatoes, broth and salt in a 3-quart heavy pot till they are tender, about 1/2 hour. Drain potatoes, reserving broth. In large bowl of stand mixer, using whip attachment, "mash" the potatoes. Add butter, yogurt and pepper and continue to whip, scraping sides as needed. Slowly add in the broth (up to 1 cup) to make smooth and creamy mashed potatoes. Taste to adjust seasonings, adding more salt if necessary.  Yield:  8-10 servings

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Food Network's Tyler Florence has a series of "ultimates." My DVR is programmed to record them, and I watch them at my convenience. Yesterday I watched "Ultimate Chicken Parmigiana." I like Tyler. He's down to earth and his recipes are interesting. I've made chicken parm for years with no trouble, and to rave reviews. My method is a little different from his. I "fry" my breaded chicken in the oven, using a little less oil; I use Italian flavored breadcrumbs for the breading and our regular tomato sauce which is smooth and mild. I've tried variations over the years, such as mixing white wine with the egg. After watching the recording, I was hungry for some chicken parm, and I decided to go for the ultimate. My method is easier and quicker, because I make tomato sauce in batches and freeze it; so the work of making the sauce would be eliminated for this dish. Still, I think it's worth it to go the extra mile, because I liked the flavor of the olives in the sauce, and his double breading adds another depth of flavor. I'm keeping this recipe to use again. Guy, the fussy one and the resident Italian expert, gave it a thumbs up--way up.

I made a few changes, but very few and nothing to affect taste. You can find the original recipe on the Food Network site. Just do a search for ultimate chicken parmigiana. I've heard that recipes disappear from that site, so if you want the original, don't put it off. Print it out and you'll have it. Oh, and I usually don't serve chicken parm with pasta, although that is certainly an option. We like it with mashed potatoes. My recipe for lower-fat mashed potatoes will follow tomorrow.

Tyler Florence's Ultimate Chicken Parmigiana, adapted
2 Tbsp. + 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
2 garlic cloves, finely choped
2 small bay leaves
1/4 cup pitted, chopped kalamata olives
1 tsp. dried basil (I used McCormick Mediterranean Basil Leaves)
28-oz. can diced tomatoes or crushed Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. honey
sea salt and pepper to taste
big pinch of red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp. sea salt
big pinch black pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan bread crumbs (or plain)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (or 1/2 cup if using plain breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (I used McCormick California style with parsley)
1 egg + 2 Tbsp. water
2 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 - 3/4 cup Italian 5-cheese blend shredded cheese

SAUCE: Saute the onions in 2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat in a 2-quart heavy pot for about 2-3 minutes, or till they get soft. Add the garlic and bay leaves and continue to cook for about a minute. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, stir, lower the heat and cover the pot. Cook for about an hour for best blend of flavors.

CHICKEN CUTLETS: Preheat the oven to 350F. Get the ingredients together for the chicken so you have a little assembly line.

1. Put the flour, salt and pepper in a paper plate, and mix with fork to distribute ingredients.
2. Put the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley and garlic powder in another paper plate
and mix with fork to distribute ingredients.
3. Put out one empty paper plate.
4. Crack the egg into a shallow wide bowl (like a soup bowl); add the water and whip with a
fork till it's frothy.
5. Prepare a 9x13 or 8x12 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Slice the chicken breasts in half to make them thinner, or pound them with a mallet. I got 4 cutlets from 2 chicken breasts. Because you're putting breading and cheese on them, 1 cutlet may be enough for you, as it was for us. But if you're a big eater, plan on using 2 cutlets (1 breast) per person.

Start your assembly: Using tongs for the chicken, pick up one cutlet and dredge in the flour; then dip into the egg, coating both sides. Lastly, dredge in the breadcrumb mixture. Lay the cutlet on the empty paper plate. Repeat with the other cutlets.

In a large heavy saute pan or fry pan, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cutlets, and fry for about 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once.
Transfer cutlets to the baking pan and ladle the tomato-olive sauce over them. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or till the cheese is bubbly. Garnish with fresh basil and serve with hot spaghetti or mashed potatoes. Serves 2-4

Notes: Tyler uses fresh basil with this dish, and I would have, except my plants are not cooperating. They got hit with some cold weather after I planted them and they are just now recovering, so it will be a while before I have fresh basil. Tyler also uses a large rectangular saute pan that is oven proof. I don't want to put my cookware into the oven, mainly because my pots hang over the stove and I've seen his pots -- they're streaky and spotted and I don't want my pots to look like that. So I transferred to a baking pan. If you have an ovenproof saute pan that you want to use, go ahead.

Monday, May 12, 2008


This cheesecake is an adaptation of a recipe I found on The baking temps are perfect, resulting in a creamy, smooth and solid cheesecake with no cracking and no browning on the top. The flavors of real vanilla bean mixed with True Lemon were great, and the strawberry puree was outstanding (left over glaze from the strawberry cream tart -- see previous post under pastries -- fruit tarts). This one is a keeper. (If you're not familiar with True Lemon, click this link:

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake
Rating: 9 out of 10
1/2 pt. strawberries
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. butter or Smart Balance

Wash, hull and cut strawberries; place in medium heavy saucepan, crushing them with a potato masher. Add remaining ingredients except butter and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook for 1 minute or so, or till mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve. Stir in butter. Cool thoroughly.

1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Preheat oven to 325F. In work bowl of food processor, combine all ingredients. Pulse till combined, adding a tsp. or more of water, if needed, to bring dough together. Pat dough onto bottom and 1" up sides of a greased 8" springform pan. Place on a baking sheet. Bake
for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

3 (8-oz.) pkgs. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 cup superfine sugar
3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla beans scraped from 1 pod (or 1 tsp. vanilla)
1 packet True Lemon (or 1-1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice)
3 Tbsp. lite sour cream

Increase oven heat to 400F. Cut 2 large circles of heavy duty aluminum foil and place the springform pan with the cooled crust inside. Wrap the foil around the sides of the pan, tucking in tightly. In workbowl of food processor, combine cheese, sugar and 1 egg. Pulse till well combined and creamy, about 1 minute, scraping sides and bottom. Add remaining eggs and yolk, one at a time, pulsing and scraping after each addition. Add remaining ingredients and pulse just till combined. Pour the batter evenly over the cooled crust. Using about 2/3 - 1 cup of cooled strawberry puree, spoon dollops over top of cheesecake. Using a knife or spatula, gently swirl the puree into the batter. Place the pan, wrapped in foil, in a large baking dish. Fill the baking dish with hot water halfway to the top of the cheesecake pan, and place in oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Without opening oven door, reduce heat to 250F. Bake for an additional 90 minutes, or till cheesecake is set. Transfer cake to wire rack to cool thoroughly, then refrigerate, covered, overnight. Yield: 12 servings

TO SERVE: 1. Spoon additional strawberry puree on plate and top with cheesecake slice.
2. Or, Place slice on plate; Squirt some Redi-Whip beside the slice. Place a whole strawberry in the Redi-Whip. Sprinkle shaved dark chocolate over all.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


What I sometimes love about our neighborhood is that it is predominantly a group of geographically diverse transplanted retirees. One neighbor, who moved here from the San Francisco area, actually attended the same grade school that I did (St. Patrick's in center city, Philadelphia), much to my and his surprise. Many other neighbors used to live near us in northern New Jersey. It was one of our formerly northern New Jersey neighbors who got the idea to host a Mother's Day party for all of the mothers who would not be with their children today. It turned out that was just about everyone, so she limited the party to about 35 of the closest neighbors. Naturally, we all brought something to the party. I decided to bring a tray of sausage and peppers and some angel biscuits. These are perhaps the easiest yeast rolls I've ever made. They're very light (like angel's wings, hence the name) and have a good flavor. There are numerous recipes for angel biscuits on the internet -- even Martha Stewart has a version. I went with White Lily on this one. I have a bag of self-rising flour in the pantry and figured they would know best how to use it. Their recipe is written specifically for self-rising flour. Now, I admit I am not a big fan of self-rising flour. I find it much too salty for one (maybe because I am just too used to sea salt which has a more subtle and rich flavor). So I changed up the recipe to decrease the self-rising flour a bit. These turned out wonderful and I may just use up the rest of the bag of SR flour by making another batch or two. They are great sandwich rolls, or can be used for breakfast or for a snack with just butter and jam or honey. And since they freeze well, the whole batch can be saved in the freezer until you need them. (For the original recipe, go to the White Lily website,

White Lily's Angel Biscuits, adapted
1 small pkg. (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. warm water (105-120 F)
4-1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup Crisco vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1-3/4 cups buttermilk, warmed (105-120F)
2 Tbsp. butter

DIRECTIONS: Dissolve yeast in warm water; set aside. Combine flour, sugar and baking soda in bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add shortening and butter and mix on low speed until fats are in small pieces the size of peas and smaller. Mix warmed buttermilk with the yeast water. Add to flour mixture, first on low speed, then on medium until everything is well mixed. Refrigerate dough, covered, for several hours or up to 3 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425F. Lightly spray a large (13 x 17 or 15 x 10) baking pan with non-stick cooking spray, or line with parchment paper. Turn dough out on lightly floured counter or board and roll to about 1/2" thickness. Cut into rounds with 2" cutter (I only had a 2-5/8" cutter, so I used that). Place rounds close together in prepared pan(s). Cover with clean lint-free warm, damp towel and allow to rise about one hour. (Dough will be doubled in size and will leave a small indentation when pressed lightly with your finger.) Bake 15-20 minutes, or till nicely browned and puffy. Remove rolls from oven and brush tops with melted butter. (I took a piece of butter and rubbed it over each top.) Serve while hot. Yield: with 2" cutter -- 30 rolls; with 2-5/8" cutter -- 24 rolls

NOTE: When working with yeast, use a thermometer to be sure the water is between 105 and 120 degrees. Water too hot will kill yeast and water too cold will not activate yeast.

STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS: Cool biscuits completely. Store in plastic storage bags or wrap in plastic wrap. Keep in the freezer for up to one month. (Refrigeration is not recommended.) To reheat, place thawed biscuits on baking sheet in 400F oven; bake 5-10 minutes till warm.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Since January, when we checked into a Doubletree Hotel in San Diego and were given those delectable, warm cookies that we gobbled down, I've been thinking about finding a copy cat recipe, and this is it. The website,, has quite a few copy cat recipes, all sent in by site visitors. Well, first off, let me tell you that I have to make this one again. I definitely goofed. I used the new Smart Balance butter blend in place of the butter, subbed some Stevia for part of the sugar, used quick oats instead of old-fashioned, and worst of all, when I was adding the flour the dough seemed too loose. So I added about 1/2 cup more flour. I would say I'm lucky these turned out at all. They rose too high for a Doubletree cookie. Doubletrees are thick and sturdy, but they don't puff into a dome. (I wonder if they use part bread flour to get the sturdiness.) IMHO, the flavor is off slightly too. These turned out good -- very edible -- with a tender almost cake-like crumb. But they're not Doubletrees. In order to critique the recipe, I have to make it exactly like it's written, so I will be making these again. For now, here is yet another chocolate chip recipe to add to your file. (I am reproducing the recipe as written without my changes.)

Copykat Doubletree Hotel Chocolate Chip Cookies

1-1/2 cups butter -- softened
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
4 eggs
2-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups old-fashioned oatmeal -- uncooked
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips -- Ghiradelli
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place butter in large bowl and cream lightly with an electric mixer. Add the sugars and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and lemon juice and mix well. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, oatmeal, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to the creamed butter mixture and stir well to blend. Add chocolate chips and walnuts and stir to combine. Using a 1/4 cup measure or a 2-oz. ice cream scoop, drop the batter on the parchment-lined pans, leaving 2-3 inches between each cookie. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from parchment and cool on wire racks.

Friday, May 9, 2008


Pork tenderloins are so good done on the grill; they're one of my faves. But the leftovers are a problem. Sometimes they get thrown out before they're used up. But who can resist a pulled pork sandwich? Gourmet magazine published a recipe for pulled pork using leftover pork tenderloin. Bingo! I'm in. It doesn't matter how much is left over. Just cover it with water, a little vinegar, barbecue sauce and hot pepper sauce. Simmer it for a while, pull the pork apart and voila - you've got your pulled pork. It's pretty easy, and amazingly good. I've reduced the vinegar because we found it just a little too vinegary. Next time I'll try Robin Miller's version, but we enjoyed this a lot. I spooned the pork onto low-carb tortillas that I spread with guacamole. I topped the pork with salsa and shredded cheese, then rolled the tortilla up and put it inside non-stick aluminum foil. I placed the aluminum foil packet in a large fry pan and covered it; cooked on medium heat for 5 minutes, flipped the packet over and cooked for 5 more minutes. Everything was nicely heated inside; the cheese had melted, and we had a nice dinner with coleslaw and beans on the side.

Gourmet Magazine's Pulled Pork Sandwich
Leftover cooked pork tenderloin
Water to cover
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar (I would reduce to 1 tsp. next time)
1/3 cup barbecue sauce (I just used Kraft Hickory Barbecue Sauce)
Hot pepper sauce to taste

In a heavy pot, combine pork with just enough water to cover. Add vinegar, BBQ sauce and hot pepper sauce to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat, covered, until it pulls apart, about 50 minutes. (I left it on the stove for about 4 hours on the lowest heat setting.) Remove pork from the sauce, shred and set aside. Simmer the sauce until it reaches the desired thickness. Stir the pork in the sauce and spoon the mixture onto the bottom half of a hamburger bun and top with coleslaw. (Or follow my instructions above for a pulled pork tortilla sandwich.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


A neighbor gave us some of his homemade basil pesto. I like pesto, but I am not a pesto-nut. I particularly like pesto mixed with mayo as a sandwich spread. Guy does not like pesto on his pasta, and I have to say it doesn't send me into ecstasy either. So I've been looking for ways to use up this very nice gift; hence this recipe. This is not my favorite hummus (olive hummus and sun-dried tomato hummus are my two faves), but this is not bad and I'll make it again. I think a nice veggie or cracker dip could be had by adding about 1 cup sour cream to this hummus along with some more pesto for zip.

Basil and Pesto Hummus
1 cup garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
2 Tbsp. basil pesto
1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. lite soy sauce
2 Tbsp. lite sour cream
2 Tbsp. tahini
1/8 tsp. sea salt
dash black pepper

Combine all ingredients in work bowl of food processor and pulse till well combined. Scrape down sides and continue to pulse till mixture is creamy. Add some water if it's too stiff.
Yield: 1-1/3 cups

For dip, add another cup of lite sour cream to the hummus along with 2 more Tbsp. of pesto.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


This recipe comes courtesy of Food & Wine, November 2002. I've made it several times, and it's always good. Usually, I use Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes, because I like the quality. The quality of your tomatoes will directly impact the final taste of your soup. I've been avoiding Hunt's, because their tomatoes are always so acidic. For some reason, when they came out with their fire-roasted tomatoes, I wanted to try them. Looks like Hunt's got it's act together, because these tomatoes were a better quality than what they've put out in the past.
I made a few changes in this recipe, like taking out the flour, reducing the fat and changing the sugar to honey. Instead of chopping the veggies by hand, I threw everything in the food processor and hit the pulse button for about twenty seconds. We had some with dinner last night, and I froze a quart jar without the half and half. When I thaw it out, I'll heat the soup and then add the half and half at the end. I don't know what it is about soup; I can eat it year round and always feel comforted.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Bisque
INGREDIENTS: 2 Tbsp butter (I subbed Smart Balance buttery spread)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (I used a Vidalia)
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 cups low-sodium, nonfat chicken broth
Two 14-1/2 oz. cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. honey
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup Land o'Lakes fat-free half and half
1/2 cup garlic or cheese croutons for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS: In a 3-quart heavy pot, heat the Smart Balance over medium heat. Add the chopped veggies and cook, stirring occasionally, till veggies are just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except half and half and croutons) and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree soup with an immersion blender, right in the pot, or transfer to a blender, in two batches, till almost smooth. (If you only need two servings, here is where you freeze a quart for later.) Return puree to pot, add the half and half and heat briefly, taking care not to boil the soup. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with croutons and serve. Yield: 6 servings

Monday, May 5, 2008


The Monday morning weather curse is still upon Eastern North Carolina. Our Plein Air class met inside again. The weather was only a threat -- no rain actually fell. It's ok with me; I actually prefer painting inside. The front that passed over brought some cooler weather, and soup was a perfect first course for dinner. I actually made this red pepper soup last week and had fire-roasted tomato soup tonight, but that post will come later. The May issue of Southern Living had this roasted red pepper soup recipe. I made the croutons, which turned out very well, then forgot to put them in the soup. They were great in the tomato soup though. This soup makes up quickly and is really good.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup With Pesto Croutons
1/4 cup refrigerated pesto, at room temperature
6 sourdough (or French) bread slices
2 Tbsp. Smart Balance buttery spread
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 (15-oz.) jar roasted red bell pepers, rinsed and drained
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup Land o' Lakes fat-free half and half
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Sea Salt and black pepper to taste
Garnishes: chopped parsley; shaved Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350F. Spread pesto on 1 side of each bread slice. Cut each bread slice into 1/2 - to 1-inch cubes. Place bread cubes in a single layer on a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan. Bake 16-20 minutes or until golden, turning once after 10 mnutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Melt Smart Balance in a 3-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in bell peppers and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool 10 minutes. Process red pepper mixture, in batches, in a blender 8-10 seconds until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Return red pepper mixture to pot; stir in half and half and parsley and cook over medium heat 5 minutes, or until thoroughly heated. Do not boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into 6 bowls; top with parsley, Parmesan cheese and croutons. (Recipe states 6 servings, but it was more like 4, unless you like a tiny little bowl of soup. The croutons can be used for salads and other soups, so go ahead and make them all. I made half pesto and half garlic. They were both good.)

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Recently, the Food Network aired their "ultimate recipe challenges" in several categories. One of the categories was cookies, further separated into 3 sections (chocolate, spice and bar cookies). One winner was selected from each of the 3 sections, and the over-all winner took home the $25,000 grand prize. Camilla Saulsbury had two recipes accepted for the challenge, and both cookies won their respective sections. One cookie was a ginger spice cookie and the other was a bar cookie. She took home the grand prize for her spice cookie. There is some controversy over Camilla's win, since her credentials seem to indicate she is a food professional (check out her website at I watched the show, and, while other contestants freely talked about their previous experience with cooking contests, she defintely downplayed hers. Actually, she said nothing; and considering the number of wins she has had, that was amazing by itself. I guess the question being asked now is: Is it right for a person who was hired by Pillsbury to develop recipes for their brownie and cake mixes, who teaches cooking classes, who is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and who has authored not one but seven cookbooks to enter amateur cooking contests? Does the Food Network even check these things out?

Getting back to today's recipe, Camilla's winning spice cookie recipe didn't entice me, but her "Oaxaca Fudge Bars with Cashew Crumb Topping" did. Checking the recipe closely, I saw that it was a duplicate of a popular bar cookie and that Camilla had just added some different flavors and the cashew crumbs on top. I had a box of Duncan Hines brownie mix on hand and thought I would try her flavorings with the brownie mix. Since I didn't have cashews, but I did have hazelnuts, I decided these brownies would have a hazelnut-chocolate chip topping. Camilla's flavorings spiced up the brownies a bit, but these are just ok for me. I can't rave, maybe because this just isn't where my tastebuds want to travel, but maybe also because I used a brownie mix and it altered the flavors. Anyway, this is not a bad alternative if you're looking for something new to do to a brownie mix, and the hazelnut-chocolate tip topping is great.

Oaxaca Fudge Brownies with Hazelnut-Chocolate Chip Topping
21-oz. Duncan Hines Family Style Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. instant coffee powder (decaf ok)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup crushed potato chips (optional)
1/2 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray, or grease with shortening. In medium bowl, combine all ingredients except nuts and chips. Pour into pan. Sprinkle nuts and chips on top. Bake according to package directions, testing for doneness with a toothpick inserted 1" from edge of pan. When it returns clean, remove brownies from oven and cool on wire rack completely. Cut into squares when cool. Yield: 20-24 brownies